Overwatch's Competitive Mode will be more "skill-based" when it returns

Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan has confirmed in an interview with Eurogamer that the McCree nerf he hinted at last week is going to happen soon, but said Blizzard is “still in exploration mode” regarding buffs to D.Va. He also talked about some of the changes that have been made to the game's Competitive mode, which is now more of a skill-based system than progression-based, as it had initially been envisioned. 

“The system that we had implemented was what we like to call 'progression-based.' We thought there was a lot of coolness to doing this kind of system and that's why we had the one month reset, because it feels good to go through the progression more than one time,” Kaplan said. “What was not implemented, was what we called our 'heroic rank,' where it would show a stack ranking of top players who hit that rank. There was a misunderstanding among our playerbase that everyone was going to get to heroic rank, which is not true, just like it's not true that everybody will get to legendary in Hearthstone. The perception of our system was off. So the new system, when we unveil it, I think you'll see that it's much more skill-based.” 

Under the original system, Kaplan explained, players would work their way through tiers—Challenger, Advanced, Expert, Master, and Heroic—and could not be pushed out a tier once they'd attained it, even if they were consistently losing. That, and the lack of the “heroic rank,” led to the assumption that everyone would eventually end up in the same place, entirely undifferentiated for one another. So under the new rules, “There's no safety net,” Kaplan said. “If you lose, you're going to go down, if you win, you're going to go up.” 

As for the McCree nerf, Kaplan said it's a “pretty straightforward” process of reducing his “fan the hammer” damage: Keeping it high enough so he can kill “the squishies,” like Tracer, Genji, and Reaper, with his flasbang/fan the hammer combo, but not so high that he can tear through tanks with the ease he currently enjoys. D.Va's situation is somewhat more complex, as Blizzard is currently considering buffs to her damage or her survivability, but not likely both; in either case, her changes won't come until after McCree is taken care of. 

The full interview covers a number of other topics, including the tick rate, Play of the Game tweaks, and Blizzard's plan for rolling out new maps and heroes. If Overwatch is your thing, you'll want to give it all a read at Eurogamer.

The PC Gaming Show returns to E3 on Monday June 13, featuring game announcements, updates to existing favourites, and conversation with top developers. You can find out what to expect here, and also book free tickets to attend in person at pcgamingshow.com. The PC Gaming Show will be broadcast live through twitch.tv/pcgamer from 11:30 am PT/2:30 pm ET/6:30 pm GMT, but be sure to tune in beforehand to check out The Steam Speedrun, in which one lucky winner will buy as many games as they can in three minutes.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.